Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday declared total war on bandits wreaking havoc in parts of the country, saying their days are numbered. The president, who was reacting to the killing, on Sunday, of over 40 people by bandits at Goronyo market, in Sokoto State, sent a tough warning to the criminals and declared, “The clock of your ultimate destruction is ticking as you will no longer have a place to hide.”
Buhari had earlier taken a critical look at the security situation in the country before news of the massacre in Sokoto State filtered in. He had boasted that the military and other security agencies were recording greater successes in the bid to rid the country of insecurity.
The president, however, counselled the Nigerian media on the need for accurate reportage of security and safety issues by replacing the usage of phrases, like “rising insecurity”, with “declining insecurity”.
But in Kaduna State, security forces reportedly killed 10 bandits in Kwanan Bataru, Giwa Local Government Area.
Governor Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State, reacting to the killing in his state, called on the Nigeria Army to carry out coordinated operations in the North-west to help stamp out banditry in the region.
In a similar vein, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom expressed concerns about recent attacks and kidnapping of students in schools across the country.
United States reiterated its readiness to lend support to Nigeria in its bid to contain insecurity.
Buhari, in a release by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, declared, “The days of the bandits are, indeed, numbered, because the military capabilities of our forces are being boosted by the acquisition and deployment of advanced equipment.”
He said, “The bandits are living in the fool’s paradise of invincibility, but reality will soon dawn on them harder than ever before.”
Buhari added, “The bandits are currently under desperate pressures, because of the intense and sustained air and ground operations against them in their hideouts by our security forces.
“The cowardly attacks on innocent people by the bandits show a rearguard action of criminals under pressure. But they will have no place to hide and our gallant security forces will not relent in the current offensive to defeat these callous enemies of humanity.”
The president appealed to Nigerians not to despair, because his administration was determined, more than ever before, to protect Nigerians from murderous criminal gangs with no respect for the sanctity of human of life. He extended his sympathy to the families of the victims of the Goronyo attack and called on the people to remain patient, as the military strategised on how to crush the bandits.
In yet another presidential message by Shehu, to felicitate with the Muslim Ummah, Nigerians of all faiths and the followers of Islam all over the world on the occasion of Maulud-Un-Nabiyy, Buhari gave a snapshot of the increased activities of the armed forces, the police, and intelligence agencies to effectively respond to the security challenges in the country. He said the increased cooperation from the citizenry, coupled with reinvigorated, dynamic, and energised police, security and military leadership was helping the administration score more victories against terror, criminality, and economic sabotage.
He argued that the reality of declining insecurity should replace the inaccurate narrative of rising insecurity in the country.
“While there is work to do, the men and women in uniform, who are helping the nation to achieve this goal, desire our collective appreciation and encouragement to do even more,” Buhari said. “The whole country and its mass communications systems have a duty in this regard,” he added.
He said the government expected and intended for those trends to continue, and called on the media to address the tone, content, and standards of reporting on security and safety measures.
He said the time had come for the media to revise the prefixes “rising insecurity” with “declining insecurity.”
In his felicitation with the Muslim Ummah to mark the Eid-Ul-Maulud on Tuesday, which has been declared a public holiday throughout the federation, Buhari said, “I am delighted to send greetings of peace, unity and goodwill to the Muslim Ummah, fellow citizens, and Muslims all over the world as they observe and celebrate Eid-ul- Maulud.”
He urged Muslims to strive for “forgiveness and closeness to the noble life and teachings of the Prophet (SAW), whose birthday is being marked on this blessed day. On this auspicious occasion, I wish you all the blessings of today.”
No fewer than 40 people were killed as suspected bandits attacked a market in Goronyo Local Government Area of Sokoto State. The armed men attacked the market on Sunday, which happened to be the market day.
Sources in the village said the marauders attacked the market in large numbers and started shooting sporadically, leading to the death of over 40 persons.
A source, which spoke on condition of anonymity, disclosed that the casualty figure was over 40, as the area was still unsafe for residents to access. The attack was the third in the area in two weeks.
Last Thursday, suspected members of the outlawed volunteer vigilante group, also known as Yan Sakai, attacked and killed nine Fulanis at Manmade market in Gwadabawa Local Government Area of the state. Suspected bandits also killed 20 persons at Ungwan Lalle market, in Sabon Birni Local government Area of Sokoto State.
The Sokoto State government had earlier ordered the closure of markets in the Eastern Senatorial District of the state as a measure to fight the rising insecurity in the state.
Tambuwal Calls for Coordinated Operations in Sokoto
Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal called on the Nigerian Army to carry out coordinated operations in the North-west to stamp out banditry in the region. Tambuwal made the call on Monday, when the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Faruk Yahaya, paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Sokoto, the state capital.
The governor disclosed that the operations of the army in Zamfara State were having a negative effect on Sokoto State, especially, the Eastern part of the state, hence the need to carry out the operations simultaneously.
“Between yesterday and today, we have lost many people in Goronyo Local Government Area of the state,” he said, adding that before now, the situation in the state was not as bad. He appealed to the Nigerian Army to review its operations in the state.
The governor also asked the Chief of Army staff to deploy more troops, resources, and intelligence to the state to end the banditry. He promised that his administration would do everything in its powers to support the security agencies to end insecurity in the state.
Earlier, Yahaya commended Tambuwal for his support to security agencies in the state. The army chief, who was in Sokoto, his home state, on his first visit since his assumption of office as Chief of Army Staff, said he was in the state as part of a familiarisation tour to divisions across the country. The purpose, he said, was to interact with troops and encourage them on their duties as well as hold security meetings with governors and relevant stakeholders.
He said the perpetrators of criminal activities across the country were also human, and said there was need to work with everyone to track down the criminals among the people.
In a related development, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, prayed for the continuous success of the security agencies against criminal elements in the country. While receiving Yahaya in his palace, the Sultan said he was always happy to receiving army personnel, having being one of them before ascending the throne. He disclosed that Sultan’s Palace remained home to everyone, not only the army chief, but every Nigerian, irrespective of where they came from or their religious background.
The Sultan said his council would continue to pray for the army chief and his people, saying the task before them is more than the civil war era
Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom expressed concern about recent attacks and kidnapping of students in the country. Ortom spoke on Monday at his country house, Gbajimba, in Guma Local Government Area, during the virtual handing over and commissioning of a Government Science Secondary School built by some oil companies in the country, including Chevron, Famfa, Prime, and Equinor.
He said education remained the bedrock of growth and development of any nation, wondering why schools should be the target of criminals.
The governor lauded the oil companies for investing heavily in the education sector as part of their social responsibility policy. He pledged, on behalf of his government, that everything in its powers would be done to protect the facility and announced immediate perimeter fencing of the school.
The governor also decried the high number of internally displaced persons in the area and urged the federal government to do everything to ensure that the people returned to their homes.
He said, “I will not keep quiet and allow some group of people chase my people away from their homes and continue to make them IDPs. Gbajimba has over 500,000 IDPs. I appeal to the federal government to stop these herdsmen and declare them a terrorist group.
“They should stop the killing and destruction of our property. I will not engage any militia group but seek justice of my people.
“Security is a mandatory responsibility of every government. I want to appreciate the recent effort made by government in nipping insecurity in the bud, especially, in the state but it should be sustained.
“I also appreciate the effort of security agencies, who are sacrificing their lives to ensure peace in our state. The federal government should do massive recruitment and adequate funding of security agencies so that they can put in their best in securing the lives of Nigerians.”
Deji Elumoye, Michael Olugbode in Abuja, George Okoh In Makurdi, John Shiklam in Kaduna and Onuminya Innocent in Sokoto